YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Armenia remains committed to deepening its relations with NATO even after its leadership’s decision to join a Russian-dominated alliance of former Soviet states, a senior Armenian official said on Thursday.
Koryun Nahapetian, the chairman of the Armenian parliament committee on defense and security, said the controversial foreign policy change will not affect the “individual partnership action plan,” or IPAP, with NATO that was launched in 2005 and has been repeatedly modified since then. “We have no intention to freeze, suspend or discontinue any of the activities envisaged by that program,” he told a news conference.
“In that sense, our partnership with NATO is further deepening. We enjoy great trust by our partners and we have justified it with our actions,” said Nahapetian. He singled out Armenia’s participation in NATO-led missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan.
The ongoing presence of around 200 Armenian soldiers there highlights increased cooperation between the Western alliance and the South Caucasus state heavily reliant on close military ties with Russia. Armenia has also been reforming its armed forces in an effort to bring them into greater conformity with NATO standards.
“Our activities carried out within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and our possible accession to the [Russian-led] Customs Union must not harm the development of our relations with NATO,” stressed Nahapetian.
Visiting Yerevan in September last year, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen likewise insisted that there is “no contradiction” between Armenia’s membership in the Russian-led alliance and closer ties with NATO. Rasmussen spoke of “potential for further development of our partnership.”
Incidentally, NATO’s special representative to the South Caucasus, James Appathurai, was in Yerevan on Thursday, meeting with President Serzh Sarkisian and First Deputy Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan. Sarkisian’s office said the two men praised the “deep an comprehensive agenda” developed by Armenia and NATO.
According to a separate statement by the Armenian Defense Ministry, Appathurai and Tonoyan discussed the IPAP’s implementation.